Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Children's Programs Today

 Today was the second of a number scheduled for this spring with more the fall. The Norchester Garden Club ladies teach and entertain local Day Care Children about the garden with stories of "Catherine the Caterpillar" and butterfly crafts.     What beautiful days to enjoy the garden!  These pictures were taken today.  I hope you will come out as the garden is in full bloom.  Our next work day will be May 11th as "garden maintenance" is a continuing process.    

Two of the "Knock Out" roses are on their death bed and will be removed in the fall in order NOT to leave space next to the fence. They will not be attractive but will tend to prevent the Blyel kids from jumping over (read "breaking") the fence.  The fencing is residential grade and probably won't last for too many more years.  Any contributions to the garden are used only for ongoing maintenance and planting materials. For information on how you can help contact    matzke.garden@sbcglobal.net


Friday, April 6, 2012

Beautiful April

April is one of the nicest months in the Houston area and this one has started out just fine.  We had a short notice work party at the garden this morning.  Helping and enjoying the Monarchs were Judy R and spouse Richard.  Thank you for your care and love given to the Monarch's.  And Helper #1 certainly appreciated another man to help dig and wheelbarrow the mulch for a change.

Kathleen M joined in this morning with Turk's Cap to plant.  We had purchased 12 bags of garden soil to fill in some of the front berm bed and mulch was added to the all the beds.  Chuck B trimmed the shrubs and fixed the watering system where a couple were leaking and creating a mud hole.

Children are already in the area to hunt the plastic Easter Eggs being set out by parents. I hope they avoid the beds.  It didn't seem to matter that I requested parents not to hide eggs within the beds and to watch for snakes and bees. They were putting them there anyway.  All the beds are looking really good and Spring like!  Lots of caterpillars and Monarch's.

Another first.   We had an inquiry  about the ability to "rent" the garden for some wedding pictures.  They were encouraged to use it as they wish at no charge... but that a donation could be made if they choose.   The garden would be a nice setting for pictures for weddings, proms, birthday, or a Quinceañera celebration also known as "Fiesta de quince años"   (celebration of a young woman turning 15)  See this link for more.    Mercer Arboretum is a very popular venue for such things.

It is very satisfying to see the garden enjoyed by so many people for so many different reasons.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Can't Have Too Many

I've heard it said that one can never be too thin or have too many silk blouses. And if you maintain a butterfly garden you for sure can't have too many milkweed plants.  Monarch lava (caterpillars) are eating machines and they only feed on the leaves of milkweed plants, also known as Butterfly Weed. A few can strip a two foot plant of all its leaves in a couple of days, so keeping the plants replenished in the garden takes some planning and effort.

Here are pictures taken on Friday of seedlings in our greenhouse and of larger plants purchased locally.

 If you look closely at the larger ones you will see they already have caterpillars at work on them as shown in the closeup just below.

Look for the two sets of arrows like this >>>>>>> and <<<<<<<<<<<<

Want to see these guys up close?   I picked these off our plants at home and took them to the park on Saturday afternoon where they can eat their fill without killing our seedlings.

        One of the main reasons for the butterfly garden is to serve as a learning tool for children.  The Norchester Garden Club ladies put on programs for day care and home schooled 4 and 5 year olds.  In the last two years 267 kids have gone through and over 108 are scheduled for this spring.   Along with educational stories and games, a simple craft is part of the program.  Here butterfly fans are getting their handles applied.  These will be colored by a child to take home as a memento.
If you have an interest in helping out with these 45 min. programs, drop an email to